I think that at the time I entered Al-Anon, I needed time out in the relationship. Maybe it was appropriate and healthy to shut down at that time. As my recovery has taken steps forward, I've focused on the things that I want to do. I've not shut my self off in the relationship anymore, but I'm not as available or present as I once was.
And in a friendship that I've written about on here, I've basically let it go. After making my amends, I pulled away and have heard nothing from the person. It's as if the friendship didn't exist. I think that I was unavailable to the friendship during the time when I started in the program. I was no longer present or the same person as I was before.
And then there is my avoidance of a meeting where I originally started in Al-Anon. I began in Al-Anon there but found that over time, the dominance of one person made me uncomfortable. So I decided to attend other meetings and effectively closed myself off from that group.
And now I'm wondering whether these were all healthy choices or part of some kind of withholding and relationship sabotaging on my part. By withholding and departing, the other person can do nothing in the relationship when we are gone.
So I'm pondering what I accomplished by backing away. Was it because I needed some time to get my own head together? Did I need time to heal? To sort things out? Or was I using some old adaptive behaviors from my past in which I hid, ran or let go of relationships because I was afraid that there was no other way to take care of myself? Dog eat dog, run or be killed, hide or be found.
Today, I believe that in my marriage I have become a different person. I am no longer just there because of another but am working on a life that includes things that I want to do. In many ways, it's a much better relationship than before. Not as confining, not as predictable, not as filled with anxiety. It's as if I have become my own person and not an extension of another.
In the friendship, I withdrew because I couldn't foresee that there was anything left on which to base a friendship. My repeated attempts to call or contact the person were largely ignored. So during the amends, I saw that the other person had decided to shut down and no longer wanted to be available. I accept and respect that decision.
In the case of the dominant "leader" of the meeting, I sense that the other person is controlling and manipulative. I don't get a feeling of warmth and love. I don't get a feeling that the person "walks the walk". The amends born of my resentment to her is one that I need to make. And then I can move on.
Withholding can be a double edged sword. It can excise those people that may be harmful but it can also sever relationships that we didn't intend to remove. Handle with care. It cuts both ways.